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Table 4 Theme 3: Comments regarding parents’ perceived control over children’s weight issue

From: Why do parents enrol in a childhood obesity management program?: a qualitative study with parents of overweight and obese children

Sub-theme 1: Parents no longer know what to do about children’s weight issue
P3: ‘I joined it [PEACH] out of shear frustration, I changed my own lifestyle and from just a regular guy became a fitness fanatic…the girls are complete opposite, they are becoming more lazy and fatter every day. They are heading into an opposite direction.’
P8: ‘I’m not sure what to do when he’s hungry all the time…he eats a lot’
P10: ‘It [following healthy lifestyle at home] stopped working, she was getting bigger and her weight was going up quickly…we tried a lot at home but got to a point where it wasn’t enough anymore….I’m willing to try anything’
P13: ‘He’s got problems with eating and acts on impulses….he goes and eats inappropriate foods at night [ice cream at 4 am] when everyone is still asleep’
P17: ‘It’s my fault…we eat healthy on weekdays but eat out on weekends and it’s hard to go back to healthy eating on Monday…I’m worried about holidays…I hope it won’t destroy what they have changed so far’
P20: ‘I was concerned about her weight and attitudes towards food and behaviour. She sometimes steals food from other children’s lunchboxes, complains all the time that she is hungry although there is just no way that it is possible she may be hungry. She is lying about what she had eaten…we didn’t know what to do about it’
Sub-theme 2: Parents wish for the program to influence their children
P3: ‘I’m looking for skills to help the girls help themselves, to learn how to teach them skills to help themselves and become healthy’
P4: ‘I joined [PEACH] and wish for him to accept himself, realise that he may not be as slim as other children but he can still be healthy. To understand the feeling of fullness so he doesn’t keep on eating’
P5: ‘I want her to hear about healthy lifestyle from someone else’
P11: ‘I want to give her an opportunity to learn….and understand how food works in the body….to help her with confidence and reassure her that she’s not alone in the word feeling bad’
P12: ‘I was looking for help with educating her, she is old enough to be able to make own decisions about food and may listen better to advice provided by other people than parents’
P13: ‘Kids tend to listen better when it’s [information] coming from someone else’
P17: ‘Sometimes it’s difficult to explain things to kids, what to eat, what to do, so they sometimes listen better when these things come from other people’
Sub-theme 3: Non-parental influences on children’s weight status
P1: ‘He [ex-partner and child’s father] must learn more about nutrition because he feeds the kids pasta and potatoes five times a week’
P3: ‘I’m trying to role model but find that management of it all (weight issue) is hard because their mother [ex-partner] does not support my efforts’
P12: ‘Media definitely plays a role here…programs like the Biggest Loser show kids that it’s ok to pick on fat people… Advertising makes it very hard for families with a child who is overweight…kids play sport and only junk food is in cafeteria and junk food vouchers are given as rewards [after games]. Dealing with fast food ads and children and healthy eating is very hard’
P14: ‘Media definitely influences children’s food choices, they want yoghurts with their favourite characters, meals with toys…when eating out none of the kids’ meals options at restaurants are nutritious…we buy them an adult meal because is it more nutritious’
P15: ‘Media shows unrealistic images of very thin children. No one looks like that’
P18: ‘Media plays a huge role…advertising food, bad food…kids are drawn to it and then want to get it. It’s difficult to deal with it.’
P19: ‘I’m annoyed that in children’s shows you can see healthy weight range children eating crap food and no one talks then about the food being healthy or not…not everyone has a weight problem but there should be something said there about it.’
P20: ‘Media keeps on advertising fast food, and you get toys. They try to say they have healthy options but have you ever hear a child saying – mum can I have yoghurt when at Maccas? They all want the happy meal.’